The Sardaukar were an elite military force controlled by the Padishah Emperor during the Corrino Empire. They were renowned and feared throughout the Known Universe for their fanatical fighting abilities, and used ruthlessness, cruelty and deceit to accomplish their goals.
Upbringing and Training
Members of the Sardaukar were raised from a young age in a ferocious natural environment that saw almost half (6 out of every 13) die before the age of 11. Intense training gave them formidable swordsmanship and espionage abilities, and instilled a religious fervor that added to their mystique.
The fighting abilities of the Sardaukar were renowned throughout the Old Imperium. At the apex of their sway over the affairs of the Universe, it was said that their swordsmanship was comparable to that of Ginaz Tenth Level, and their cunning abilities at in-fighting was said to match that of a Bene Gesserit adept.
The abilities of the Sardaukar were largely attributed to the harsh environment and brutal discipline they were exposed to on planet Salusa Secundus, the Corrino prison planet. Since the Fremen were exposed to much more harsh environments and discipline than the Sardaukar, they were capable of developing into superior fighting machines when compared to Sardaukar. Fremen soldiers typically believed that while Harkonnen soldiers were no match for them, the Sardaukar fought well.
Indeed, during the Fremen uprising on Arrakis the Sardaukar suffered a devastating defeat, which saw Paul Atreides elevated to Emperor of the Known Universe. Subsequently, the Sardaukar became a marginal force, continuing to act as the army and guardians for the deposed House Corrino, though deliberately avoiding direct conflict with the powerful Fremen warriors of the Atreides Empire.
Appearance and Fighting StyleSardaukar troops typically wore uniforms of black. Often they wore their hair long, which was taken as a sign of arrogance by those who beheld them. They had a distinct combat style, which allowed them to be recognised easily.
When in close-quarter, hand-to-hand combat, if they found themselves surrounded they would group into threes and adopt a fighting stance with their backs to each other. They would carry weapons on their person that would be ingeniously concealed, such as shigawire in their hair or a fake toe or two inserted with small stabbing weapons. Sardaukar were also experts at covert operations, managing to conceal themselves among groups for extended periods of time before striking.
During the Harkonnen attack on planet Arrakis when it was under the control of House Atreides, Sardaukar troops were provided by Emperor Shaddam IV to assist the Harkonnens. Even though the Sardaukar forces were disguised in Harkonnen livery, the Atreides managed to recognise the Sardaukar by their combat style.
Fall of the Sardaukar
The Sardaukar were a key element in maintaining the Imperial hegemony of House Corrino. However, by the time of Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, although still formidable, they had fallen prey to arrogance and overconfidence and the sustaining mystique of their warrior religion had been deeply undermined by cynicism. Finally, the utter defeat of the Sardaukar by Paul Atreides and the Fremen on the plains of Arrakeen sealed the fate of the Sardaukar.
After the fall of House Corrino as the ruling power, House Corrino was allowed to maintain only one imperial standard legion (approximately 30,000 men) on Salusa Secundus. They ceased to exist as a viable entity after Farad'n Corrino became the concubine of Ghanima Atreides when Leto II ascended to the Imperial Throne as God Emperor. During his rule, one of Leto II's many Duncan Idaho gholas led the remnants of the Sardaukar in an attempted revolt.
The defeat on Arrakis, the Sardaukar's later revolt against the God Emperor, and the general decline of the Sardaukar organization all finally caused the abolishment of the Sardaukar corps. They were replaced by the female Fish Speakers, who in time, by and large, had Sardaukar blood in their veins (and somewhat ironically, would later fall into decline after the Scattering).